A couple listens to CEBO)))‘s second release Bloodwheel is all it takes to get its sludgy hooks in you deep. The album is a multi-dimensional beast with some seriously downtuned fuzz, rock hooks and a blues heart. The band is a solo project of Jim McMillan and hails from Georgia, home of the sweaty, hotter than Hades type of summers. And Bloodwheel is about as perfect a companion to those miserable dog days as a cold beer is to quenching thirst. That’s not a slight in the least, rather a compliment and if you even remotely like sludge you’re in for a treat with this edition of Sepulchral Saturday.
I was first introduced to CEBO))) by @HideousNOLYB through a feature he ran on his website (here) for the band’s debut Jerry. It literally consumed me for weeks. With just three songs and a ton of blues power behind all those stoner-esque riffs it was addictive to say the least. Much the same can be said for Bloodwheel except this time out the songwriting is better, making the mix of Iron Monkey’s volatility and Robert Johnson’s swagger intertwine to a larger degree. Granted, the focus is more on window rattling frequencies (“Wild Bill”) but still, the blues leak out of every bottom-heavy riff (“So”).
Soundbites open each track and for the most part they are well picked. Anything from Apocalypse Now to Bill Clinton’s infamous attempt at a ‘get out of jail free’ card. The thing about soundbites is knowing how to not overuse them and McMillan pulls the plug on each before they overstay their welcome and end up being a thorn in the side of this otherwise fantastic album.
I make no bones about my absolute love of really good sludge metal. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated and this album is not, its a collection of no frills/hard rocking songs that share the same headspace as Bongzilla at their nastiest. McMillan’s vocals are pretty much what you’d expect for this type of music, growled and dirty. And on that note, the biggest surprise of the whole album is on the Lightnin’ Hopkins cover of “Trouble In Mind” when he soulfully uses his singing voice. And the man can carry a mean tune. He channels Hopkins unbelievably well despite missing the smoky vocal tone. In addition the track is devoid of any sort of amp worship, instead it is a very played acoustic blues song.
On Bloodwheel, CEBO))) capture the soul of blues inside a bottle of extremely addictive sludge metal. Throw in a touch of stoner fuzz, the slightest nod to drone, a series of groove laden passages and this album has some serious staying power. If any of this sounds scratches an itch, pay Jim a visit and toss him a few bucks for his work. Being unsigned and independent I’m sure he would appreciate it.